I love this time of year! Twinkly lights wrapped around palm trees (well, maybe only in Southern California and Hawaii)...
Other types of trees with bare branches and public buildings dripping in shiny ornaments and more glowing lights...
Or Kwanzaa... the season's festivities include celebrating with food and gift giving.
Which brings me to today's topic... how do you know how much to spend on someone's gift? Why do we sometimes feel guilty if we don't buy someone a gift or spend a certain amount? Why do we even feel obligated to buy gifts during this time of year? If someone buys you a gift, do you automatically have to go out and buy them one? How does one save for this time of year? And what if it all makes you feel a bit blah and not in the festive mood to have to figure out what to get someone, go shopping, wrap the gifts and then give it the person and then see whether or not they even like what you got them?!?!
That's a lot. I know. My husband and I are going through these thoughts ourselves. We've spent a lot of money this year, renovating our house and going on a trip to Sicily! We don't regret any of it, but we're a bit tapped out, money-wise, now that it's the end of the year. We're also planning on going back to Michigan to see family, so not only have we been wondering what to get everyone in Michigan...we've also been wondering what to get my family here in Los Angeles, especially since we're not going to see them this year for Christmas. And...if we do get them something...how much money should we spend without putting ourselves out a bit?
I'm reminding myself this year to understand my and my loved ones' LOVE LANGUAGES! I'm sure you've heard of Gary Chapman's book, The Five Love Languages...if you haven't, it's really worth reading to understand what your love language may be, so that you can receive the love you want! One of the Love Languages is...giving and receiving gifts! Is this your love language? If so, this topic may not be a struggle for you. In fact, you may be one of those people who have all of their shopping done already by now, and everything is wrapped beautifully and placed under the tree, stocking or wherever you put your gifts. If this is you and you're struggling with the money piece, set up a gift giving fund in a high interest savings account! Add up the receipts this year, and divide that by 10 or 11 (depending on how early you like to shop). Then, next year...save up monthly, so by the time you're ready to buy, you'll have it all in your account to either pay in cash or pay off your credit cards immediately.
Now, if your Love Language isn't giving and receiving gifts (and mine isn't), then this part of the holidays may be the one thing that's kind of a drag, don't you think?
So, besides giving and receiving gifts, Gary Chapman's 4 other Love Languages are:
- quality time
- words of affirmation
- acts of service
- and physical touch.
I'm sure you can guess what my Love Language is...It's...Words of Affirmation... "You are truly amazing, smart, beautiful, Love & loved!"
Chapman believes that we all have a primary Love Language and a secondary one, so I guess my secondary one is quality time. So if the person's Love Language isn't Receiving Gifts, then it's time to look at what you can give that's not a physical gift. For me, I value a card with beautiful words. One of the best "gifts" my husband has ever given me was an e-mail he wrote on a plane about our relationship. It was filled with words of affirmation, and it still gives me lovely pangs of joy when I remember it!
As for Quality Time -- instead of buying me a gift on my birthday, calling me up and spending some time chatting and catching up brings me more joy than if you sent me a physical gift.
My husband's primary Love Language is Acts of Service, so he's been painting our house this week. He also loves to cook, do the yard work and you know the best gift he gives me with his Act of Service -- he goes to get gas for me (something I really don't like doing!). For him, I take care of our household bills, paperwork, filing and most of the negotiating (it's my zone of genius, but he's also pretty good at it too). Another act of service my husband does daily -- just make me laugh! I get front row seats at his daily comedy show, and if you know him, you know how lucky I am!
Giving of your talents and the gifts you have is truly priceless!
Physical touch may be my husband's secondary Love Language, and this one is tougher for me. Not because I'm not affectionate, but I didn't really grow up in a household where people hugged or kissed. So, it takes me a second to do it, but I see how much he loves just having his back scratched, so it gives me joy to do it.
So you see? Figure out their Love Language, and tell them that you're gifting them whatever corresponds to that Love Language, and I guarantee you're not going to get someone returning their gift this year. It will also make you feel less guilty about spending the money because what you're giving them is LOVE. And even if their love language is giving and receiving gifts, it's still important to know what their secondary love language may be to find that perfect gift.
And...at the end of the day...please let go of the guilt or the feelings of obligation! Remember, your energy is felt by others. If you buy something because you felt obligated, that person is going to feel the heaviness of that gift and may return it...for no other reason than to relieve themselves of that obligatory gift. Does that make sense? Also, if you buy a gift because someone else bought you a gift unexpectedly, that person will also feel your guilt and for some reason not love your gift as much as they would if it just came from your heart and was something that reminded you of them.
Most people think with gift giving, "It's the thought that counts..." To me, it's more the feelings and intentions you bring to it that really counts. If you feel grateful for someone and that's why you give, that gratefulness will be received, no matter the dollar amount. If you buy a gift with the intention of getting something from that person, the intention will be felt and the gift will not add any true meaning to their life and may get "Marie Kondo'd" during the next clutter clearing cycle.
Finally, on a different note, I believe that giving to others, in need, really exemplifies the season. It's a way to help someone who truly needs it, and it may give you a tax deductible donation for the year, if you give before December 31st!
I know you have a lot of choices for where to give, so I really appreciate you considering this one. I started a GoFundMe account for a friend who got scammed when she put down a deposit on an apartment. Being formerly homeless for an extreme, limited period of time, she had the opportunity to get subsidy, so she went through HUD's website.
After calling a listing, she saw the apartment, filled out an application, and when she was approved, paid the first and last month's rent as well as security deposit. Then, she didn't hear back from anyone!
Panicked, she went to the apartment, talked to the manager and realized the person who took her money was a scammer. It was devastating because she just paid this person $2500...which she didn't really have to give.
After she went to the police, called her bank and I helped with calling a lawyer, she realized there's probably no way of getting her money back. So, I decided to start up a GoFundMe account. Her Love Language is Acts of Service and Words of Affirmation. I have given her words of affirmation, but in this case, it really wasn't enough, so I felt I had to take action. She's such an inspirational, loving mom and someone who helps others on a daily basis through her job and through her church.
If you feel the urge, please give to the campaign HERE. If you can't donate money, then please share. I so appreciate the LOVE we've gotten so far! In just a little over a week, we've raised nearly $1500, so we've got just $1000 to go! I'd love for this to be her Christmas gift, so we've got only about a week to go on this fundraiser! Even $5 will help! But again, if you can't donate money, then please share the link on your social media or even better...with a personal e-mail to your circle of generous friends and family members. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!
I hope this gives you a lot to think about when it comes to gift giving. It can be giving of your time, your money, your hugs, or your services! Speaking of services, if you give to the fundraiser above, let me know how I can be of service to you, especially with your financial life or if you just need someone to practice a negotiation! Just sign up on the Home Page and then schedule your session with the Scheduling Link.
Now, what's your Love Language? What's your friend or family's Love Language? What gift ideas can you give me or others based on your Love Language? Tell me below -- what's your Love Language and then...what would be the best gift to give YOU, based on your Love Language?